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================== The Draft Copy of The Letter ==================
Dear Property Managers and Members of the Board,
Pursuant to FL Statute 718.1244 (4)(b), the undersigned hereby provide both above listed Associations with notice that the November 1, 2016 election contained fatal errors in the pre-election procedures and as such should have been cancelled and re-noticed. A summary of the pre-election procedural errors is provided below.
The Associations’ failure to comply with Articles 3.4 and 4.2 of the Association Bylaws regarding the proper mailing of the second election notice and ballot information, specifically mailing the second notice no less than 14 continuous days before the election, resulted in a fatal error of the pre-election procedures.
The Associations knew or should have known that the Affidavits of Mailing they received from Jet Printing House were not sufficient to create irrefutable evidence of the timely mailing of the second notice. By improperly relying on these affidavits, the Associations created another fatal error in the pre-election procedures.
By having insisted that the Association Members must use the envelopes sent by the Associations to return their ballots, the Associations frustrated the purpose of the 14-day mailing because many homeowners did not receive their ballots in time to participate. This was another fatal error in the pre-election procedures.
By attempting to invalidate valid Voting Certificates during an election, the Associations caused significant confusion and attempted to suppress voter participation. This issue is compounded by the fact that the Associations did not announce the Voting Certificate update requirement before the election and only provided information about the Voter Certificate update in the second notice that was not timely and arrived late for many voters. This impulsive and unnecessary administrative hurdle with the apparent intent to suppress votes was another fatal error in the pre-election process.
Upon receiving notice that the election information had not been received by many members and that postmarks were showing mailings as late as October 25, 2016, 7 days before the election, the Associations failed to give alternatives to the members that live out of town which would have allowed those members to participate in the election. This failure to give a proper alternative to members in this scenario was another fatal error in the pre-election procedures
By providing envelopes and ballots at the annual meetings, the Associations created an illegal preferential treatment toward local homeowners over homeowners that live abroad. This too was a fatal error in the pre-election procedure.
By failing to keep accurate records, the Associations reduced the number of people that could participate in the election, thereby reducing the possibility of reaching the state minimum requirement of 20% of the unit owner votes. This failure is not only a fatal error in the pre-election procedures but also a violation of the Associations duties as proscribed in Article 18 of the Association Bylaws.
Finally, by consistently taking actions to limit voter participation by homeowners and failing to vote themselves the Associations’ board members helped to prevent the membership from reaching the state required minimum of 20% and breached the board members’ and the Associations’ duty of loyalty to the Association Members. This concerted effort to reduce voter participation was a fatal error in the pre-election procedures.
The sum of all the foregoing fatal pre-election errors provided the Associations with more than sufficient evidence that fatal error had consistently plagued the November 1 election. As a result the Association should have remedied those errors by cancelling the election and beginning the notice process anew.
Because the Associations did not cancel the election and because so many fatal errors in the pre-election procedures occurred, we demand that the Associations provide the following relief:
-We demand that within 14 days of receipt of this notice, the Associations announce a special meeting to conduct new election for the board of directors and mail the 60-day notice required for the election.
We demand that before sending the 60-day notice, the Associations should apply for and obtain an election monitor from the DBPR to oversee the entire election process.
-We demand that the Associations pay the reasonable costs associated with the undersigned’s efforts in preparing this demand.
In the event that you do not comply with this demand within 14 days of its receipt, the undersigned will file a petition to arbitrate with the DBPR.
In an effort to be transparent and to avoid unnecessary costs and litigation to all parties, the undersigned is providing a copy of the petition they intend to file with the DBPR for your review. Please note that the petition is in draft form and may be altered or amended at the time of filing with the DBPR.
We are hopeful that arbitration will not be necessary and that the Associations will recognize that holding a fair and properly noticed election is in the best interest of the Associations and the membership.